I’ve chosen to think that a new star has graced the sky tonight. I’m not sure I will be able to see it here in the city, but the thought should offer some solace. A candle has finally burnt out and its scent still lingers. There are a thousand metaphors I could create and yet they all mean the same in the end: today we said goodbye.
I can’t say I’ll be poetic for every parting in my life, but this was the first time I couldn’t physically be there. I had been hoping since I heard the news I might be able to come in summer, but coronavirus has killed almost all my travel visions with an infant. Safety and our health comes first, it is a bitter pill to swallow.
I’ve been blessed most of my life to know my grandparents and to spend time with them. Only one passed when I was 17, the rest have always been around to support me in my life. Today, I lost another, my Gramma D. We haven’t always seen eye to eye on some topics, but she was a cheerleader and enjoyed my writing. I think my highest complement over the years was her telling me that my writing is much better now. This is a good thing as I followed in her footsteps and became a teacher!
I’ve been meaning to get home since I moved to China, but my pay is much lower. I missed many weddings of family and close friends, and now I missed the last moments with my Gramma. Choosing to be financially responsible meant I couldn’t fly when I was more able to, and when I wanted to the world said, ‘No.’ Timing is a bitch. (Sorry, Gramma.)
I’m really thankful for my family for keeping me updated as much as they could throughout it all. For my Auntie Lauren, who called me on Friday night to get in a chat with my Gramma and Grampa. It was nice to chat a little and see how she was doing and keep her spirits up while she cooed at my daughter. Thankfully technology has enabled me to not only talk to my Gramma and Grampa from afar, but to also take one last photo together. My gut told me to take a screenshot on the phone even though neither of us are at our best, so I won’t be sharing that with the internet. But for me it will remain a memory and the closest I could get in her last moments.
This morning I missed a call from my sister, Jess, so I called her back and she let me talk to Gramma D. even though she wasn’t talking anymore. I didn’t know what to say, maybe I could have been more eloquent with my words or said something more comforting. ” How are you? Are you feeling okay? We love you and miss you. I think about you everyday. Don’t worry, we are all doing good. I love you.” It was short, as I don’t know how to talk to silence. I hope it was enough to calm her and know it was okay to go peacefully. I hope in some ways those words provided some sort of comfort and love even through the telephone. I wish I could have given one more kiss or hug goodbye, but it wasn’t bound to happen.
I’m not sure how to grieve from far away, maybe it will come in waves. Maybe it will slowly flow out here and there. Being far away it is hard to conceptualize that someone is gone, I refused to use the words goodbye on the phone. Goodbye is final, and I don’t think goodbye should be the last thing we hear. Although she did hear hello as I was making sure my sister knew I was done talking. Today I said goodbye through a phone, and its the only kind of closure I will have.
Thinking of it, I don’t have many photos of just my grandmother and I. Maybe we didn’t spend enough time together, or it was because it was before smartphones, so there are just fewer pictures. I never knew a lot about my grandma, but she told me about her pregnancies and births while I was pregnant so it gave me some ideas of what I might expect. Losing someone and not having much to look at is kind of sad, but luckily I have a few family photos of her smiling in it. Which makes me realize ask questions and take photos while you can. Squeeze people a little tighter when you have the opportunity and always say I love you and miss you if you can even if it comes across as repetitive.
However, each and everyone of us grieves the loss of a loved one is okay. But losing Gramma D. today makes me know, I need to check in more often with Grampa D. to make sure he is coping okay and is well-taken care of. I might not physically be able to do anything, but I can check in from afar and make sure he is doing okay. I think that is what Gramma D. would want me and the rest of us to do. I never said it on the phone, but if it is written into the universe, I’m sure somewhere her soul will hear it. ” Don’t worry, about Grampa D. He’s in good hands and we’ll all take care of him. Love him a little more and squeeze him a little tighter.” On that note, “We’ll feed him lots of cheese and sweets too. He is a little on the skinny side and his bones need a little extra sugar to pad him with all the love and attention he will be getting in the coming days and weeks.” And of course, “Somebody will make a color joke and ask him what color he thinks something is. I know you always loved teasing him that way, as you told me so while sitting on the porch of the beach house so many years ago.”
Gramma D. you are loved, you were loved, and you’ll continue to be loved. I’m not Christian so I’m not gonna say see you in heaven, but if that’s where Grampa D. wants to see you later on then you’ll have to head there. Just, don’t call him over too early. As for me, I’d like to hope that your soul gets a chance at life again to see and do all the things you didn’t get to in this lifetime. And maybe, we’ll meet on the road among my travels.
I love you and I miss you. I’m so glad you were able to meet your great-granddaughter even if only through a video chat. I’m glad you aren’t suffering anymore and you were surrounded by your loved ones at home. Sorry, my writing isn’t more eloquent for your passing, but I only wanted to write what I felt in the moment as it’s the form of grieving that I’ve chosen to use today. I quite like to think you may approve of this. And when I look up to gaze at the stars, I’ll remember you are among them.<3